Sunday, February 2, 2014

Men's Basketball: St. Thomas Aquinas 79 UDC 73

Lenjo Kilo (#10) had a huge game - 28 points & 14 rebounds

From our friends at UDC Athletics...

Another UDC Second Half Rally Falls Short in 79-73 Loss to STAC

Once again a valiant second half comeback by the Firebirds fell short as the University of the District of Columbia men's basketball team lost to East Coast Conference foe St. Thomas Aquinas, 79-73 on Saturday afternoon at UDC Gym.

Despite playing with a roster of only seven available players, the Firebirds (3-14, 1-10 ECC) still managed to out-score their guests, 40-37 in the closing half, but it was not enough to erase their 42-33 halftime deficit. Junior transfer forward Lenjo Kilo (Biology – Silver Spring, MD/Seton Hill) was the catalyst for UDC with game-highs of 28 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Sophomore guard Omar Abbas (Electrical Engineering – Alexandria, Egypt/Egyptian American HS) added 16 points, freshman guard Kevin Campbell (Biology – Washington, DC/Woodrow Wilson HS) pitched in 11, and junior transfer guard Prince Ritson (Psychology – Greenbelt, MD/Bowie St.) contributed 10 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Omar Abbas (#4) scored all 16 points in the 2nd half

STAC, which won its third straight game to stay in the six-team ECC Tournament race with a league record of 6-6 (10-8 overall), featured a very balanced scoring attack that saw four of five starters reach double-figures. Guard Chaz Watler led the Spartans with 20 points on 10-of-15 FG shooting and also registered six rebounds and two steals.

Kilo and Ritson combined for 12 points in the opening 5:41 of action as the Firebirds raced out to an early 12-4 lead. But following a 30-second STAC timeout, guard Eli Maravich (nine points, four rebounds, three assists) started and ended a 19-4 Spartans surge with three-pointers, and St. Thomas Aquinas pulled in front, 23-16 with 7:50 left in the first half. STAC would lead by as many as 11 in the first half but would take a nine-point lead, 42-33 at intermission.

Prince Ritson had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists

STAC bolstered its lead to 50-39 at the 15:16 mark of the second half courtesy of a Watler layup, but a three-pointer by Abbas ignited a furious, 16-1 Firebird run over the next five minutes. Abbas' conventional three-point play forced a 51-all tie, and his layup at the 10-minute mark gave UDC its largest lead of the second half, 55-51.

Things unraveled quickly for the Firebirds though as three consecutive fast-break layups by STAC in a span of less than one minute put the Spartans back in front, 57-55. Abbas answered for UDC, knocking down a three-pointer just past the nine-minute mark to give the Firebirds their last lead of the game, 58-57, but a layup by STAC's Omar Kellman (12 points, eight rebounds) put the Spartans back in front, 59-58 at the 8:35 mark.

Clenso Brannon III (#2) left the game due to injury

Ritson's three-pointer at the 3:36 mark forced the game's third tie, 67-all, but a clutch jumper by Watler following a UDC turnover put the Spartans ahead to stay. The Spartans went on to out-scored UDC 12-6 in that final 3:36, making 6-of-6 at the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds of regulation to seal the victory.

The Firebirds out-shot their guests 49-percent to 46-percent from the field and were way better from long-range (52-percent to 26-percent).They also won the rebounding battle, 33-28. However, they were done in by 18 turnovers which resulted in 29 Spartan points. STAC also doubled-up UDC in points in the paint, 40-20, and benefitted from a 17-6 bench points disparity.

Coach Mike Riley talks strategy during a time-out

Next up, the Firebirds will visit ECC foe LIU Post on Thursday, February 6th at 7:30 p.m.

Click here for yesterday's box score.